223 thugs in state jobs

SOUTH Africa has in total 223 criminals working in public offices and, of these, 166 are in national departments.

These figures were compiled from March 2008 by the Public Service Commission (PSC).

A total of 32 national departments participated in an investigation by the PSC and 14 departments were found to have employees with a criminal record, accounting for 74percent of government's criminals.

The Treasury had 49 people with criminal records and Correctional Services 36 people.

But the Treasury was quick to indicate that most were convicted for traffic offences, such as not paying traffic fines and negligent driving.

But some were convicted for fraud and corruption.

The provinces have employed a total of 57 criminals, with Northern Cape having 23, Free State 16 and Western Cape 10.

According to PSC spokesperson Humphrey Ramafoko the government does not at present know how to treat this matter since there is no clear guidelines on the issue.

Most of these criminals were employed between 2005 and 2008 and were appointed mainly in clerical accounting 19, security 15 and senior management 10.

"The PSC found that criminal record checks are done in an inconsistent manner across state departments," Ramafoko said.

"It takes a month or longer for a criminal record to be checked. The PSC recommends that a turnaround time of longer than a month isunacceptable."

Ramafoko cautioned though: "Care must be taken by departments to ensure that each job application by a person with a criminal record is treated on merit, taking into account the type of crime committed, job requirements and duties attached to the post.

"However, the relevant legislation and prescripts provide little guidance on how departments should manage job applicants with criminal records," Ramafoko said.